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Book II Jules Verne

Jupiter Somewhat Close

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Table Of Contents: Off on a Comet

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From its increased remoteness the diameter of the sun's disc was diminished to 5 degrees 46 mins.

And what an increased interest began to be associated with the satellites! They were visible to the naked eye! Was it not a new record in the annals of science?

Although it is acknowledged that they are not ordinarily visible on earth without the aid of a somewhat powerful telescope, it has been asserted that a favored few, endued with extraordinary powers of vision, have been able to identify them with an unassisted eye; but here, at least, in Nina's Hive were many rivals, for everyone could so far distinguish them one from the other as to describe them by their colors. The first was of a dull white shade; the second was blue; the third was white and brilliant; the fourth was orange, at times approaching to a red. It was further observed that Jupiter itself was almost void of scintillation.

Rosette, in his absorbing interest for the glowing glories of the planet, seemed to be beguiled into comparative forgetfulness of the charms of his comet; but no astronomical enthusiasm of the professor could quite allay the general apprehension that some serious collision might be impending.

Time passed on. There was nothing to justify apprehension. The question was continually being asked, "What does the professor really think?"

"Our friend the professor," said Servadac, "is not likely to tell us very much; but we may feel pretty certain of one thing: he wouldn't keep us long in the dark, if he thought we were not going back to the earth again. The greatest satisfaction he could have would be to inform us that we had parted from the earth for ever."

"I trust from my very soul," said the count, "that his prognostications are correct."

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"The more I see of him, and the more I listen to him," replied Servadac, "the more I become convinced that his calculations are based on a solid foundation, and will prove correct to the minutest particular."

Ben Zoof here interrupted the conversation. "I have something on my mind," he said.

"Something on your mind? Out with it!" said the captain.

"That telescope!" said the orderly; "it strikes me that that telescope which the old professor keeps pointed up at yonder big sun is bringing it down straight upon us."

The captain laughed heartily.

"Laugh, captain, if you like; but I feel disposed to break the old telescope into atoms."

"Ben Zoof," said Servadac, his laughter exchanged for a look of stern displeasure, "touch that telescope, and you shall swing for it!"

The orderly looked astonished.

"I am governor here," said Servadac.

Ben Zoof knew what his master meant, and to him his master's wish was law.

The interval between the comet and Jupiter was, by the 1st of October, reduced to 43,000,000 miles. The belts all parallel to Jupiter's equator were very distinct in their markings. Those immediately north and south of the equator were of a dusky hue; those toward the poles were alternately dark and light; the intervening spaces of the planet's superficies, between edge and edge, being intensely bright. The belts themselves were occasionally broken by spots, which the records of astronomy describe as varying both in form and in extent.

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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